Plant Science Institute Awards Start-up Funds

July 2nd, 2002

AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University's Plant Sciences Institute has awarded start-up funding to six Iowa State research projects.

Each project received approximately $25,000 for one or two years.

"Identifying promising research projects and helping them get started is one of the most important activities of the institute," said Stephen Howell, director of the Plant Sciences Institute. "We're extremely pleased to initiate these innovative, quality research projects that have considerable potential for long-term success."

The research projects are described below.

Glenn Schrader, chemical engineering; Paul Scott, agronomy; and Steve Rodermel, botany, will develop laser raman spectroscopy (LRS) as a new tool for studying metabolism in corn. If LRS technology can be successfully applied to their model system, it will be a breakthrough in the new field of metabolomics and lead to several opportunities for future research.

Robert Thornburg and Amy Andreotti, biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, will look at a novel peptide hormone that controls plant growth to determine its structure and to understand how it works.

David Hannapel, horticulture, and Hui-Hsien Chou, zoology and genetics and computer science, will use an innovative microarray analysis to identify developmental pathways affected by interacting transcription factors. Transcription factors are proteins that regulate the activity of genes. The researchers will study two transcription factors that control growth in the potato.

Mark Hargrove, biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, will research defense responses in plants. He will investigate whether or not a class of proteins scavenges damaging chemical compounds and minimize injury to neighboring tissues when plants respond defensively.

Thomas Baum, plant pathology, will use Arabidopsis to study plant defenses against root pathogens. The knowledge gained in this project will be used to help solve the most serious pathogen problem in world soybean production—the soybean cyst nematode.

Philip Becraft, zoology and genetics and agronomy, and Marit Nilsen-Hamilton, biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, will attempt to identify chemical signals that coordinate growth and development in plants. Chemical signals are perceived by protein receptors that adorn the surface of plant cells. The investigators will identify the chemical signals by constructing special receptors that issue an obvious report when they perceive a chemical signal.


Stephen Howell, Plant Sciences Institute, (515) 294-5267

Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778